“Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” 1 Co 4:16
“We did this… in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.” 2 Thes 3:9
Richard, one of our long-time pastors, once asked a penetrating question: “Are you living a life worth imitating?” To be honest, it felt a little presumptuous and self-absorbed to consider my life worthy of emulation. A more realistic evaluation might conclude that my life would better serve as a model of what NOT to do.
Well Paul’s words from his letters to the churches at Corinth and Thessalonica make clear that he had no issue at all directing Christians to imitate his life. As my wife, Leslie, and I reflected on our response to Richard’s question, our conversation almost immediately turned to a dear couple who have had an immeasurable impact on the way we live.
God introduced us to Ruth and Charlie Hamrin in 1985. They were in their 50’s and had been married for nearly 25 years. We were in our early 20’s and engaged to be married. Despite the gap in age, we quickly developed a deep friendship. Its been nearly 30 years and the impact this dear couple has had on our lives continues to unfold. Charlie passed away in 2014 but we are grateful that Ruth is still with us.
If I could distill into one word the gift that Ruth and Charlie offered us it would be “hospitality.” They welcomed us into their lives by welcoming us into, and sharing with us, their home, their family, their pastimes, their vacations, their ministry, their neighborhood, their home improvement projects, their friendships, their work, and their ministry – they welcomed us into virtually every aspect of their lives.
If you were to ask me describe one of the most powerful experiences of love, and encouragement in my life, I would have no trouble answering. I would respond without hesitation and without reservation: the strong, warm embraces – the ”big hugs” – that I received every time I entered the Hamrins’ home. And imitating those hugs – imitating the profound hospitality we experienced at the Hamrins’ – has become one of the chief goals that drive our family’s life and ministry. Frequently, as Leslie and I discuss reaching out to someone in a difficult situation, we say to one another, “We just need to be Ruth and Charlie to him.”
Are you living a life worth imitating? If you’re not, you are missing an opportunity to positively impact someone else’s future. I’m sure glad that Leslie and I had Ruth and Charlie to emulate. Their example changed the trajectory of our lives. Is there someone that you have committed to imitate? Has someone profoundly changed your life by their example? Feel free to share by leaving a comment. Thanks for reading.